An admitted radio addict, I heard recently a discussion of the word elitist. Among other things the discussion revealed that it now costs as much as $400 for a ticket to a Broadway play. Wow! I'll have to cross that off my life-goals list. How have we managed to cut up the arts till only the wealthy can afford to take part? We know that paintings have risen to astronomical highs, and I guess I never questioned that; going to a movie is more expensive but with careful budgeting, we can manage that, or wait for the film to come out on the rental lists. Books, my personal favorite, are pretty readily available at our wonderful libraries, used books stores, thrift stores, and sale tables in the big chains. Thank heavens for that. Buying new hardbacks strains my budget.
What amazes me, though, is the generosity of poets. We long ago gave up on the idea that we would make money on our art. Few poets publish in hardback, none expect the famous advance for a publisher, and the majority give free readings, publish in non-paying venues, share their wares in a variety of ways. I heard amazing poems at a coffee shop on Saturday for the price of a large decaf latte. This doesn't mean that we wouldn't accept payment if offered, but we go on doing art for the sake of connecting with other minds and souls. In a wonderful essay that appeared on the website for This I Believe, George Bowering, Canada's poet laureate, says, "I believe that the human intellect is the closest thing we have to the divine. It is the way we can join one another in spirit." That's exactly what poetry does, lets us join minds. Who could refuse to share such wealth?